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Friday, December 6, 2013

Dean Ambrose, the Shield and raising the profile of the WWE United States Championship

As of December 5, Dean Ambrose of the Shield has held the WWE United States Championship for 200 days. This makes Ambrose the longest reigning current champion in WWE, followed closely by the incomparable AJ Lee, who has held the Divas Championship for 172 days.

Ambrose defeated Kofi Kingston at Extreme Rules back in May but has only defended the title 11 times since then, with most of those matches ending in disqualifications via Shield interference. In what may have been a first, he also defended the US Title on a taping of NXT against Adrian Neville, who coincidentally has an NXT Title shot against Bo Dallas on the 12/5 episode.

It’s unfortunate that most of his title defenses ended without a clean finish, but it only makes sense, considering the Shield is the most dominant heel stable in WWE, next to the Wyatt Family. The overarching sentiment online seems to be that he doesn’t defend the US Title enough, though it would almost be pointless for him to defend it more often. He doesn’t have any believable challengers right now and even if he did, the inevitable Shield run-in would only result in another defense via DQ.

In my opinion, however, I’m entirely OK with how infrequently he defends the US belt right now. Even though the US Title is generally seen as the lowest-tier title in WWE, Ambrose holds the belt in high regard. Before one title defense, he even said that unless he was facing the ghost of Andre the Giant, he wouldn’t be losing his US Title that night. His concern with continuing to hold onto the US Title is helping to raise its profile and legitimacy in the WWE.

On top of that, Ambrose being part of the Shield is also helping to raise the importance of the US title. The Shield is an interesting anomaly in the WWE.  Though the group is comprised of rookies who have only been on the main roster for a year, they made an immediate impact in the company, being involved in main event angles from their very first appearance. Being that they are essentially still rookies in terms of experience on the main roster, it makes perfect sense for Ambrose to hold the US title. And since the Shield is consistently involved in main event angles, Ambrose’s status as a member of the Shield is helping to raise the profile of his championship.

Remember how great it was when the Rhodes’ defeated Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns for the tag team championships? That match was easily one of the best on Raw in the past year and it was all because of how unbeatable the Shield had been, making their loss more memorable.

It would be the same type of circumstances when Ambrose eventually gets contenders for his title. Only, the biggest problem with finding contenders will be finding believable ones. Being that the US title is a lower-mid card belt and the Shield are generally involved in main event angles, it’s going to be difficult for WWE to develop a believable rivalry or feud for Ambrose where he legitimately seems in danger of losing his title.

Finding a challenger for the US Championship who seems a viable threat to Ambrose’s reign is going to be the WWE’s biggest challenge. My initial thought was of Dolph Ziggler, though a feud with Ambrose would likely be just filler and not lead to Ziggler winning the championship. Ziggler needs something to get his momentum going again, but I don’t think a US Title run would be what he needs. My next thought was of a previous, recent US champ, Antonio Cesaro. Being a former US champ, Cesaro could set his sights on regaining the belt. Although this feud would be even more unlikely, considering Cesaro’s place in the Real Americans and their spot in the tag division as one of the top heel teams.

Two of the most plausible contenders also seem like the two most unlikely challengers. I don’t see Ambrose truly getting competition for his title until the Shield is broken up or on its way out – which would be the perfect situation for either Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins to turn face and challenge him for the title. Rollins seems more likely to be in this position, as I can see WWE wanting to put Reigns in bigger angles, leaving indy darlings Rollins and Ambrose to feud over the US title.

But if competition doesn’t come from within the Shield itself, the best bet for WWE to pit Ambrose against a talented, natural face would be giving newcomer Xavier Woods a shot at the US Championship. A great worker with charisma for days who is naturally likeable, Woods would make the perfect foil for Ambrose. A feud between the two could stem from something as simple as the two running afoul of each other backstage and Ambrose begins to screw with Woods because he’s the new guy and doesn’t like his demeanor. A feud between the two could lead to some great matches with Woods eventually getting a shot at and maybe even winning the US title. Not only would they have exciting matches for what’s seen as the lowest tier title, but it would be helping elevate a newer star in Xavier Woods.

Even though Ambrose holding the US title and being part of the Shield is helping to make it more legitimate in the eyes of fans, he won’t have any serious challengers for his belt until the Shield is on its way out or are no longer a part of the Authority’s storyline. It’s going to take some time before Ambrose is in a spot again, storyline-wise, where he can start defending the US title legitimately, but once it happens, the US title won’t be seen as the afterthought it is now.

And if you needed to be convinced that Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins could have a great US title feud, just watch the match below of Ambrose taking on Rollins for the FCW heavyweight title. Oh yeah, and Antonio Cesaro and William Regal are on commentary so, you’re welcome.

(Image from


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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